My brother writes. I aspire to his prowess, eternally.
Case in point, I give you the first 700 words of The Muse.
Some stories begin and end badly. We generally call these tragedies and, like murderously spicy ghost peppers they should consumed in small doses or not at all. Similarly, a good tragedy is equal parts ironic and contemplative, accentuating a concept greater than sorrow in light of some greater truth. Simple sorrows compounded and collected are freely available at every city corner where a man with a cardboard sign and a practiced frown reside.
Melpomenes was the muse of tragedy. With dark hair and eyes red and rimmed from tears she was never the less ethereal in a dark, overcast sort of way. For several centuries now it had been her divinely appointed duty to sit at the side of weeping, heartbroken playwrights, poets, and authors as they poured their liquid soul into page after page of soliloquy and regret. It was a depressing job, but Melpomenes had always been very good at it and honing purgatorial pangs into timeless tragedy was truly her life work.
In the old days it was a scant few who had the time to write and her work had been light. Skipping between the bearded, toga wearing aficionados of the genre had been simple work. The work was tedious and time consuming, but with so much time in copying and recopying, only the very best of her work ever made it into the hands of her avid patrons. Then had come the printing press and as had always been the case for her mythic kin, technology had been her undoing. Now anyone with time and money could see their tragic tale printed bound and sold and with few exceptions it was dreadful.
Her child's father had been one of these exceptions. Tubercular with dwindling fortunes, the young man, confined to his dreary room with its battered old four poster bed and moth eaten curtains had grasped the concept of suffering and the scope of remorse like few since Shakespeare. His prose was heavenly, his poetry divine, and his plays entirely inspired.
Perhaps it had been the utterly doomed and catastrophic nature of the thing, but Melpomenes had fallen head over heels in love. Breaking the ancient musaic codes which limited any contact with the creator to untraceable inspirational whispers, she had revealed herself in the guise of a charming and unsolicited maid. With all the frantic passion of the hopeless, the sad Englishman with his droopy blue eyes and sallow features was married and died in only very nearly that order.
So it was on that in the early Spring of 1805, as Napoleon trampled Europe and great men gathered across the continent to discuss his demise, that a small infinitely delicate basket was left on the steps of the House on Dunnagh's Moor. It had stormed all day that day, the rain so hard, and the sky so murky that even the ducks in narrow moat took shelter from the thundering sky. As the housekeeper Mrs. Mulrooney told it years later, it was if the very heavens themselves were weeping cold iron from a broken heart.
The proprietor of the house, Colonel Dunnagh was the last in a great line of Dunnaghs reaching back to the great clans and further. With one eye, one leg, eight fingers, and a single ragged ear, he had at last been forced out of his majesties service by reason of insubordination. Returning to his decrepit ancestral home, the mossy battlements crumbling about the great wooden door, the battered soldier quickly remembered why he had left. In his youth, the young soldier, wild and charming had taken a Spanish wife, a creature of sun kissed villas and fragrant vineyards. Bringing her to his chilly Highland manor, the woman had, despite his unending ministrations, slowly withered and died. Guilt ridden, the young Lord Dunnagh had purchased a commission in the Royal Army vowing never to return.
Well liked, the young lieutenant had risen quickly in the ranks, catching the attention of his commanders by volunteering for the most uncharitable and well nigh suicidal missions fighting first the French, then the Colonists, and every type and sort between. Finally mustered out after a sword swinging rant against the Kings cowardly practice of paying other nations to fight Napoleon, when, in his words he would put him down for a bob, the battered old man had found himself with nowhere to go but to the home he hated. His superiors had been relieved.
To be continued...